Shortly after quarterback Dak Prescott underwent surgery to repair a fracture in the thumb of his throwing hand in Week 1, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the media that he was optimistic that Prescott could be ready to return as soon as Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams.
That optimism was before the sporting world had witnessed Cooper Rush, who — after five seasons of stalking the sideline or hanging out on the practice squad — has stepped up to guide the team to three consecutive victories. Rush finds himself in elite company, becoming the first quarterback to win his first four starts in franchise history.
On Tuesday, Jones cast a shadow on any hope of Prescott returning this week, telling 105.3 The Fan that Prescott is still unable to securely grip a football, a key step before he can resume full practice. Prescott was not placed on the Injured Reserve list, which makes it easier for the Cowboys to activate him and allows the star quarterback to continue working in practice.
“Well, I know that it’s better, and I know that he’s going to go out there every day and make progress toward being able to grip the ball,” Jones said. “I don’t know that you could ask for better news technically, physically in how it’s responding, how it’s healing, so to speak.
“… [C]onsidering the location of the injury, I don’t know that you could make any more progress. There’s some things here about healing that I often say only the man upstairs knows how that works. But he’ll have a big week, and he’ll be hard on himself getting it ready to go. It’s all I can say,” Jones added.
The Cowboys find themselves in an enviable situation at 3-1 and holding a 2-0 advantage in the NFC East entering Week 5 with Rush under center. Since taking over late in the fourth quarter of Week 1, Rush has thrown for 737 yards and completed 60.8% of his passes. While that is a slightly below-average number against the rest of the NFL, the most important number is interceptions. Rush has thrown zero.
There has been some degree of luck involved in Rush getting through 102 passing attempts without a pick, including two times last week that the Washington Commanders drew penalties on plays that otherwise would have resulted in interceptions.
Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good, and the only two quarterbacks in the league who have thrown fewer than one interception out of every 100 attempts are Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady (1 INT in 155 attempts) and the Denver Broncos’ Russell Wilson (1 INT in 132 attempts). Elite company, indeed.
Rush’s success has a lot to do with the years of work he has put in as a backup or third-string QB, mostly with Dallas. He has an excellent understanding of the offense, which allows offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to operate largely the same offense he would if Prescott was under center.
Prescott has been seen doing some light throwing in practice but is still dealing with swelling in his thumb, where surgeons inserted a plate to stabilize the bone. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Prescott will need to go through a full week of practice before he can be comfortable with the star player lining up.
With Rush playing clean, smart football at quarterback and a Dallas defense that is playing at an elite level this season, Jones and McCarthy have the luxury of waiting for Prescott to fully heal without worrying the 2022 season will slip away.